"Our home has changed since Zoë’s arrival," says Anna Ignacio, 31, artist and homemaker, about the Hougang apartment she's been sharing with her husband JR for six years. What was once a "masculine" flat with uncomfortable leather armchairs, breakable decor, and alcohol lined up on the shelves has turned into a bright and family-friendly space replete with DIY elements, lively personal artworks, and playful details. Anna, an interior designer by profession, has transformed the place into a wonderland meant to please her biggest client to date: her three-year-old daughter, Zoë Sofia.
"I like to doodle with chalk on the floor, by the entrance to our flat, because Zoë loves seeing these little surprises!"
One look at the apartment and you can see a place brimming with life and creative energy. The style is contemporary with splashes of colour and personal touches that make the place quintessentially intimate and cosy. "Since our home is a rental, we had no say in the main design and feel of the rooms. We had to work with its main features, as well as the furniture pieces that were already part of the flat, and introduce things that spoke about us and our personalities," says Anna. "I continue to personalise our space to make it more warm and inviting. Now that we have a little girl, I make sure to make our home fun, playful, and even a little quirky, for her."
Anna's background as an interior designer makes rearranging and recreating her place such a joyous venture—"I move and redecorate things around our home a lot," she admits. Colours and cutesy elements (think rainbows and flowers and hearts) have been consciously added to their space, because "Zoë has started appreciating the things around her, and we’ve found that it’s a great way to engage and teach her new things." Even then, she still makes sure there is balance and unity in the spaces. "When grouping decor together, I make it a point to step back to see if the pieces look well balanced, and if they don’t, I move things around until I am satisfied. For each room, I make sure there is one focal point and I design and decorate around it."
One of the challenges of staying in a rental is not being able to paint the walls. Her solution was adding lots of colour through decor, from the pillows on the couch, to the frames and art pieces on the walls. "Since we’re just renting, we didn’t want to spend so much on furnishing and decorating. We used this as an advantage and let my love for DIY projects flourish." Their flat houses her DIY projects, such as fabric bunting (flags), art pieces like hand-drawn flash cards for Zoë and inspiring quotes done in beautiful calligraphy, and paper flower bouquets. She stocks up on dainty cups and saucers, and old jars which she uses as pen/pencil holders, flower vases, and storage for random knick-knacks.
It's a house made out of love. No other way to put it.
Check out the family's lovely apartment:
"This wall is the first thing you’ll see when you enter our home. It used to be bare, so I added some of my artworks to give it some life and colour. I have a lot of framed artworks, and I put them up on our walls, because they remind and encourage me to do something creative every day."
"Our bedroom (aside from Zoë’s side of the room) is the most serene and relaxed space in our apartment. We have so many pops of colours in our other rooms that we made sure our bedroom was decorated in calm and relaxed tones. We recently bought Zoë her own little bed (we co-slept with her prior), and with it occupying a little more space in our room, we had to get rid of our old bulky bedside tables. We found these Ikea stools that were just the perfect size and repurposed them as our new bedside tables. For the perfect night-light when I want to read in bed, I used an old Ikea desk lamp and clamped it onto the bedside table. With the size of the table, I had to find something that wouldn’t take up so much space. This lamp was just perfect for it!"
"This is Zoë’s corner in our bedroom. She doesn’t have her own room, but we wanted her to have her own space in ours. We made sure that her side had plenty of colours. I decorated her wall with a handmade fabric bunting (flags) and some frames," adds Anna. "Zoë loves books and has been reading since she was two. We have a basket of books beside her bed."
"We spend most of our time in the living room. The couch is where we sit down to read, talk, and watch movies. We used to have old beat-up leather armchairs in this spot, but we replaced it with this comfy couch from Ikea. It used to have white covers, but we had to replace it with a more child-friendly colour after Zoë decided that the white was a perfect canvas for her crayon artworks!"
"Sitting on the side table is a frame of one of Zoë’s first watercolour paintings when she was two years old. It’s probably my most favourite decor in the whole flat!"
"Our kitchen came with bright yellow cabinet doors and blue laminate countertops. I accentuated the colours further by adding more bright personal artworks on the wall."
"I like collecting pretty plates, cups and saucers. Most of these are budget-friendly finds."
"The second bedroom is our guestroom/office. I love my craft table in one corner. The desk is from Ikea, while the pink chair, an Eames replica, is from a local online store. I use old jars to hold my pens, pencils, paintbrushes and markers. The walls are decorated with more of my artworks. The pink and white flower bouquet on display is actually made of paper cupcake liners. I made them for Zoë’s first birthday party decor, and I’ve been using them to liven up my space since then. I gave my pinboard a little personal touch by covering the cork with a striped yellow fabric. On it I hang some reminders, photos, as well as some of my current washi tape loves.
"I love art and getting crafty. My table is where I can escape to for some quiet me-time."
"Our dining table is inside our kitchen, separated from the living room with a sliding door. We love sitting down as a family over home cooked meals and treats. The kitchen cabinets on the opposite wall already came in bright colours, so we chose to keep the dining area subdued to balance it out a little."
"Our pink Eames replica chair. I love its little pop of colour, and I tend to move it around from room to room.
"This is Zoë’s little kitchen. I made this space a little more fun by adding a handmade fabric bunting (flags), some hand-drawn flashcards, and a little chalkboard."
"Zoë’s corner. This is where Zoë spends most of her day. I love this section of the living room. It has tempered glass panels on the walls with built-in shelves, perfect for displaying some of Zoë’s toys. I use the lower shelf, which is within Zoë’s reach, to display some of her books. I change and rotate the books around from time to time, as it helps her decide what to read next."
Anna's Designing Tips:
1. You don’t need to spend so much on items to decorate your creative space. DIY, DIY, DIY. Use old jars as holders and storage for small items. Personalise spaces with things you made yourself.
2. To create vignettes, pick pieces that you like and those that complement each other. Move them around until you are satisfied with how they look.
3. On creating a personal space for your kid at home: Decorate and arrange the space based on what your kids like to do. Find a way to display books and toys within your children’s reach, and constantly rotate and change what’s on display so they always find something new to read/do. Put away small toys in storage boxes to reduce clutter. Don’t be afraid of colour.
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Photos by Anna Ignacio